NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday raised with French President Francois Hollande the leak of confidential data on the Indian Scorpene-class submarines being built in Mumbai in collaboration with the French defence firm DCNS on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Hangzhou in China.
“This issue has also figured (in the talks),” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters. Over 22,000 pages of secret data on the capabilities of six highly advanced submarines were leaked. The data leak reportedly happened overseas. Last week, after the intervention of the court, The Australian newspaper handed over all leaked data to the French shipbuilder and to stopped publishing any more detail.
Modi also held separate “pull-aside” meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with whom he discussed India’s NSG membership. In his meeting with Erdogan, the Prime Minister discussed the issue of India’s membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Swarup said. The discussion with Erdogan on NSG was significant as Turkey was among the few countries — along with China — which had stalled India’s bid to join the elite grouping at its plenary meeting in Seoul in June.
China had then raised objection saying India was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Turkey too raised its concern over the presence of supporters of dissident Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in India. Turkey accuses Gulen of masterminding the failed July coup attempt.
Swarup said enhancing civil aviation cooperation with Turkey also figured during the discussions.
Before meeting Hollande and Erdogan, PM met his British counterpart Theresa May. The Prime Minister invited British firms to ‘Make in India’ as both leaders also looked forward to an early visit by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to the UK, Swarup said.
During the meeting, Modi also spoke about challenges of terrorism, which he said is the “biggest threat to the world and knows no boundaries”. This was their first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders after May took over as the Prime Minister following the resignation of David Cameron after Britain’s exit from the European Union. The fact that she had deputed three Ministers to India - Preeti Patel, Alok Sharma, and Greg Clarke showed the priority she attached to India.
Modi invited May to visit India in her new capacity. May accepted the invitation and said she would like to make as early a visit to India as possible.
(With PTI inputs)